That's what you get when you have children.
I was reading a book which has a line on the book cover: "Hell is not knowing how to save your child."
I believe that to be true.
Yesterday we had agreed to pick up the 7-year-old from school. She was supposed to wait for us in a certain place, next to the parking lot, because we would get there a few minutes after the bell rings.
We get there and I cannot see the girl anywhere. I get up, walk around the school yard, try to look very carefully, but cannot find her. Ask the brother if he's seen her, which he hadn't. Once before in a similar situation she had forgotten and started walking home. So we drive to the next place where she might have thought we were supposed to meet. Not seeing her, but a friend with a mother, who tells that daughter did tell them she was going to be picked up. Driving back to school, still no sign of the girl. Walking around the school yard, checking all the places I could think of, inside the school house also. No sign of the girl...
For 40 minutes we drove around checking the places she would be walking if she had eventually decided to start walking home. I could not see where else she could be. Well, I was worried of course. All these warnings received from school about a black vehicle trying to catch kids by telling their parents had had an accident. I was a bit panicked for not being able to find her. All those things you think that might have happened. Even in this land of peace and quiet. Finally my phone rang and someone phoned from school. In two minutes I had the sobbing girl in my arms.
So what had happened? All this time she had been hiding on the school premises, near the parking lot, in a bush. I really cannot understand how she had not seen me on those more than two occasions I was walking around the school yard.
Why had she been hiding? Because she was afraid the teachers would be yelling at her to get inside if the bell rang before I came. Brother has confirmed that some of the teachers really yell and are horrible. But still. I would not have ever thought about looking into a bush.
She sat on my lap for a long time when we got home. We had a very good talk and things are ok. I believe, as she says, that the reason for hiding is what she said. No bullying or anything involved by other parties. But it was shocking to realize, that really, you can never know what happens. No matter how well prepared you think you are. And if things had been worse, hell is not knowing how to save your child.
This child is getting a phone as soon as possible and using her brother's until then.